Gabriel Announces John’s Birth

John Paton was a missionary in the New Hebrides Islands. One night hostile natives surrounded the mission station, intent on burning out the Patons and killing them. Paton and his wife prayed during that terror-filled night that God would deliver them. When daylight came they … More


Luke takes us back to the time before John the Baptist was conceived, and introduces us to his parents, Zacharias and Elizabeth who were unable to have children. Zacharias was a priest, and he was serving for about  a two week period in the Temple (vv. 8-11). King David had divided the priesthood of Israel into twenty-four divisions and each division was to serve two weeks at a time annually in the temple. Zacharias’ division was on duty. He was chosen by lot to be the priest who offered the incense. Because of the large number of priests in each division this would probably be the only time in his life when he would be allowed to perform this task.

The angel proceeds to give his divine announcement (vv. 12-17). As Zacharias was praying inside at the altar of incense a crowd gathered outside the temple to pray. Suddenly, “There appeared  unto him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense” (v. 11). It was a very startling thing as no living Israelite had  ever seen an angel. This was a tremendous moment. It was the first time in over 400 years, as far as we know, that God had directly spoken to His people. This Gabriel was the same angel who appeared five hundred years before to Daniel (Dan. 8:15-16). Naturally Zacharias was  stunned. The angel told him not to be afraid and that his prayer had been answered. The angel’s message was two-fold:

  1. Elisabeth was to bear a son and name him John.
  2. John would have the spirit and power of Elijah and was to prepare the way for the Messiah.


If God chose to speak to me through an angel, I wonder how I would react, especially if He chose to perform some miraculous thing like He did with Zacharias. Would I believe Him or would I be prone to doubt?

Luke 1:8-17 (English Standard Version)

Now while he was serving as priest before God when his division was on duty, according to the custom of the priesthood, he was chosen by lot to enter the temple of the Lord and burn incense. And the whole multitude of the people were praying outside at the hour of incense. And there appeared to him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense. And Zechariah was troubled when he saw him, and fear fell upon him. But the angel said to him, "Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John. And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, for he will be great before the Lord. And he must not drink wine or strong drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother's womb. And he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God, and he will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready for the Lord a people prepared."

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